Part 2. Two acts down. One-third of the way done.

Getting dangerously emotional over Bones episodes is hardly a new phenomenon for me. In fact, it’s one of the only predictable components of my current existence. However, something about this episode (and we all know exactly what that something is) affects me in a more painfully stirring way compared to all that came before it. Resolutions to this season’s (and this series’) stories must take place within this episode. At least until the indefinitely long hiatus comes to an end. I will continue to hold onto that hope. So the stakes here are as high as they have ever been. I think because of that, the emotional stakes for the viewer are raised as well. Every last feeling in this episode is greatly intensified on a much larger scale than ever before. It certainly felt that way after the initial viewing.  Fast forward to this iteration of my 12×12 viewership, and almost nothing has changed. I am comforted by some of the knowledge I already have to go on as time ticks on. But even the joyful moments are crushing. Because of…again, the obvious. No matter how many times I try to forge on after this episode, it always ends with radio silence. To be honest, I still have yet to recover from the first time I watched.

During this segment, there were a few brief moments of relief following the dramatic events of the first act. But answers only seemed to bring up more questions. We finally determine exactly what was wrong with Brennan, but we still don’t know the details. How will this ailment actually affect her? Is it permanent? If so, what changes will she be forced to make to her life? It was exceedingly stressful to ponder these questions in March. Knowing what I know now, it’s perhaps a tiny bit easier to deal with. But that knowledge doesn’t do much to diminish the heartache. Because Emily’s exquisite acting figuratively shatters my heart every time. Everything Brennan has become makes this development all the more devastating. We can easily posit how this kind of news will affect her because of all that we know of her. All that Brennan is. Everything she has become. It’s such a shame that these actors really never got the praise they truly deserve. But that’s a complaint for another day.

There was a really touching moment between Hodgins and Booth before they were freed from the lab. More serious moments between these two are generally few and far between. The show has always handled every single character dynamic with great care, but this relationship has always been somewhat complex. I was elated to see this scene in the episode. I feel like it just resolves so much between them. Hodgins and Booth may never really be on the exact same page when it comes to science versus instinct. But with the things that truly matter, their beliefs and interests are aligned. Though they are extraordinarily different people, there is no denying that Hodgins and Booth care deeply about one another.

The team was saved in this act. They survived and escaped the very explosion we dreaded for months. But this was just another obstacle. It is not over. The case is not yet solved. The team has not caught the killer. And all of them remain in far more danger than ever before. It’s personal. Someone is targeting Booth and his family. His friends. Everyone he holds dear. Not only must they keep themselves safe while doing everything they can to catch Kovac, but Booth must also contend with the part of him which inevitably blames himself for all of it. That’s who he is. That is who he has always been. Booth is a selfless man. Never shining a light on himself, even after brave and heroic acts. And always taking the blame if he possibly played any minute role in a tragedy. I always come back to The Boy in the Shroud when I talk about Booth and Brennan, but Booth truly does carry the weight of the world on his shoulders. If he has to kill a suspect, if he can’t save a victim, if he inadvertently harms someone he cares about- it eats away at him. He has a hard time finding forgiveness within himself. And after all that has happened thus far, in his mind, how could he not blame himself?

I never seem to have a plan when I write these recaps. I do not use much of an outline approach. I only type what immediately comes to mind as I rewatch. So in case you were wondering why these constantly jump around, that is the reason. That, and the fact that I am quite on the insane side.

I do believe this is a good time to proceed to the actual events of the episode.

Following the credits, we return to the lab. Hodgins is rushing around looking for a way out that they may have previously missed. But all exits remain blocked. And it would take hours for them to forge a path from the inside. Booth is at Hodgins’ side, and is determined to find another way out. Something is clearly wrong with Brennan, and he needs to do everything he can to get her to a medical professional as soon as humanly possible. Booth will not rest until he’s found an alternate way out. Ever the hero. But he knows that with each passing moment of captivity, Brennan’s condition could be growing more dire.

Booth inquires about any other ways out of the lab, but Hodgins informs him that there are only two exits- “ironically, for safety.” Booth begins tossing out other ideas, such as utilizing a ventilation shaft or a heating duct. He instructs Hodgins (and himself) to “think.” Hodgins reminds him of the reality of the situation they are facing. Booth, a bomb went off in one of the biggest public institutions in all of D.C., all right? Rescue teams have got to already be on their way!” An extremely agitated Booth shouts at Hodgins that he does not hear drilling or anything that could be indicative of a rescue mission. Booth begins throwing large pieces of debris from a pile near one of the obstructed exits, and Hodgins momentarily gives up trying to convince him that help is coming

Elsewhere in the lab, Angela comforts Brennan by letting her know that Booth and Hodgins are attempting to find a way out for them. Angela also managed to locate some water at one of the tech stations. Brennan notices a beaker and a stethoscope next to Angela on the floor, and asks what they are for. “Hodgins says that, uh, a stethoscope and a beaker, used together, are almost as accurate as a fetal doppler, so…” Brennan appears to be surprised. Clearly worried, Angela informs Brennan that she herself was actually the one who first taught Hodgins that.

Brennan’s face appears painfully despondent. She instructs Angela to lie down, and proceeds to use the makeshift Doppler device. Brennan glides it around the stomach area, attempting to find any signs of life. Angela nervously asks, “anything?” But Brennan is visibly frustrated. “Th-This is not the appropriate device. I-I’m not a medical doctor. I’m not processing with my usual-” “So you can’t find it?”

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Photo Source: Bones, FOX (2017 Fox Broadcasting Co.)

Angela begins to break down. She just cannot hold back the tears. One minute, she was celebrating  the prospect of finally having another child. The time was right, and she had stopped worrying about the LCA gene. She had also decided to keep herself from obsessing over all that could go wrong. Angela simply wanted to revel in her news. She and Hodgins were going to become parents again. They were growing their family. After everything that this couple endured over the past couple years, they were now on the same page. Finally in sync. Everything between them was solid once more. And this baby was just the icing on the cake. A true gift. But in the blink of an eye, the lab exploded. And similar to past explosions, it has the power to change her life in irreparable ways. Another devastation she will possibly have to face. Unless Brennan is able to detect a heartbeat in the next few seconds. 

Brennan continues to search with no success. Finally, she pauses her quest. Has she given up looking, or does she actually hear something? Her face is initially indecipherable. Her eyes are wide, and her breaths are audible. Angela isn’t sure whether her friend has good news or bad news for her. She finally asks Brennan what she hears. Brennan proceeds to remove the stethoscope from her ears, and gently urges Angela to listen. Brennan smiles and waits for Angela to reach the same conclusion she has. Tears still pooling in her eyes, Angela smiles brightly. Her baby is alive.

Angela grips Brennan’s hand as she continues to listen to her living and breathing child. It’s a beautiful moment between these friends. Thinking about one of the first times these two sat in this very room, it’s astonishing to consider just how significantly their lives have changed. And really, how much they haven’t.

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Photo Source: Bones, FOX (2017 Fox Broadcasting Co.)

“I hate psychology, it’s a soft science.”

“I know but, people are mostly soft.”

“Except for their bones.”

“Yeah… You want some advice?”

“Glug, glug, woohoo…”

“Offer up a little bit of yourself every once and awhile. Just… tell somebody something you’re not completely certain you want them to know.”

“God! That’s the second time I’ve received that advice.”

“Well, you know I give great advice.”

It’s not a parallel by any means. It’s purely a reminder of where Angela and Brennan first began (at least on our journey with them). And how far they have both come. And also how this prestigious and grandiose building has served as the backdrop for so many of their experiences together.

Back on the other side of the lab, Hodgins notices Booth is now carrying something with him. “What is that?” “This is the other bomb.” Although Booth diffused this particular device already, he believes that perhaps they can now use it to blow through one of the exits. Hodgins is adamantly against this plan. “Unfortunately, this building is not going to survive another blast.” But  Booth has no desire to remain in the lab for one second more. 

“Stop! Do you understand me? Stop. You-you saw Bones. She’s got some kind of a-a head trauma. She could be bleeding in the brain.”

“I watched my pregnant wife get thrown against a wall! All right? You’re not the only one who wants out of here!”

Tensions are running high. Arguably more so than ever before. This team has surely been in high-stress situations. Life and death, even. Booth is typically a bit more clear-headed in those types of situations. A Ranger would have to be. But when it comes to Brennan’s life, rationality has a tendency to take a backseat. Emotions take the wheel. It’s understandable. Hodgins recognizes what he must be feeling. But he just cannot allow Booth to endanger them all once more. Hodgins is certain that help is on the way. After all, Cam and Arastoo were right there to watch the doors close on them. They know to direct a rescue team to them. And once the four of them get out of there, Angela and Brennan can immediately be evaluated by doctors. There is no use in causing more harm while waiting. 

Unfortunately, Booth doesn’t seem to be absorbing what Hodgins is saying. He continues to tinker with the bomb, and asks Hodgins to come over and help him. “You’re not listening, Booth! It’s too risky! You were trained in munitions! You know this! You don’t have to be a hero!” 

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Photo Source: Bones, FOX (2017 Fox Broadcasting Co.)

Booth knows that Hodgins is right. He has now stopped focusing his attention on the bomb, and is just sitting there. Slumped over, and nearly trembling. Booth is beyond frustrated with their current predicament. And he’s terrified. He glances over at Hodgins, and then out into the distance. Not really focusing on anything in particular. There are a few long moments of silence between the men. Then Booth proceeds to shut the suitcase. “I don’t need a shrink right now. You understand me? I just I just got to get out of here.” Booth is tough, but he is also sensitive and vulnerable. And that shows through here. Hodgins begins to calm down as well.  As Booth stares blankly at the ground, Hodgins makes his way over to him. “Listen. Booth, I- I know I’ve said a lot of things over the years about you being a sniper. I was wrong. Killing Kovac’s father– that was the right thing to do.”

Hodgins and Booth have never quite been two peas in a pod. They care about each other, that’s indisputable. There is a mutual respect between them. They are essentially family, and would literally do anything for each other. But on a personal level, there has always been something of a disconnect. A “language” barrier of sorts. When Hodgins and Booth first met, Hodgins was certainly not going to trust a suit from the federal government. As we all know, he is a notorious conspiracy theorist. Conversely, Booth thought Hodgins was a bit eccentric. Actually that’s probably an understatement. Though in some cases over the years, it was useful to have Hodgins’ paranoia around. The FBI conspiracy comes to mind. Booth was initially of the opinion that “squints” could not solve crimes. At least not like the FBI. It wasn’t until Brennan proved his theory wrong during their very first case, that Booth finally understood the value of forensic science. Especially the acumen of Brennan and her team. There is no one better. In the past, Hodgins was definitely a wild card. Booth didn’t necessarily take him seriously outside the realm of bugs and slime. But as the series went on, Booth grew to truly respect this man. Respect his kindness and his intelligence. He is invaluable. I also think that getting to know Brennan on a personal and professional level helped Booth to see all of “her people” more clearly and objectively. And one can definitely see the similarities between Hodgins and Brennan. Obviously Booth still fires off his squint jokes from time to time. But he quickly began respecting the science. And on some occasions, he himself utilized science and logic.

Despite a myriad of differences between them, there is nothing Hodgins wouldn’t do for Booth and Brennan and their family. And vice versa. That has been more than proven, time and time again throughout the show. As I am typing this, I am thinking about The Heiress in the Hill when Booth decides to give the $75K to Hodgins for his brother. It’s one of the odder dynamics on Bones, but it’s no less important or wonderful than any other.

Hodgins isn’t afraid of Booth (much). So he does whatever he can to try and get through to him. Booth is not thinking rationally in this moment. While Hodgins understands the stakes, he also knows that initiating another explosion and causing further devastation is certainly not the way to solve the problem at hand. Logic dictates that help is moments away. Hodgins observes Booth’s head dropping. It’s evident how helpless this man feels right now. Anyone who knows Booth knows that he is a man of action. He always needs to be doing something to help. And right now, he needs to get the four of them out of the lab.  But, it is currently in someone else’s hands. This situation is far beyond his control. Hodgins takes a moment to apologize for something he has often criticized Booth about in the past. He apologizes for the times he brought up Booth’s past as a sniper- about taking orders from the government dictating who to kill. No matter the outcome, Booth was doing what he thought was right. And with every fatal shot, he also saved lives. Hodgins can see now that shooting Kovac’s father was the right thing to do. Booth does not deserve to have his family threatened for a shot he took 20+ years ago Hodgins does not blame Booth for their predicament. No one does.

But trying to convince Booth of that fact will never be an easy task. Booth is someone who is always acting in the best interest of others. And he is constantly trying to make up for the perceived sins of his past. He blames himself for occurrences beyond his control. And he is currently blaming himself for the all the destruction brought upon their lives by Kovac. If Booth wasn’t a sniper, he wouldn’t have killed Kovac’s father. The lab would still be in tact, and they would all be safe and healthy. Or would they? No one can really ever know something like that. One small alteration to history could cause a significant ripple effect. And perhaps an even more dire fate could have befallen them all. Booth was doing his job. He was doing the right thing. Hodgins understands this now. And Hodgins can discern that Booth is carrying this impossible burden with him right now. Max’s death, the safety of his children, the lab explosion, endangering Angela, and Brennan’s current condition. All of these events could have possibly been prevented if Booth never took the shot. Hodgins is doing all he can for Booth right now. He is there to take back any of the insensitive things he may have said to this man in the past. He knows Booth is a genuinely good man. And Hodgins knows that everything Booth does, he does so purely for the safety or benefit of others. He always puts himself last. Booth is not to blame here. Only Kovac is to blame. Because Kovac is making the conscious choice to cause unnecessary pain.  He is choosing the path of revenge. He is choosing to kill in cold blood. And not even children are off-limits. Booth gives Hodgins the slightest of smiles, acknowledging his appreciation for and acceptance of the apology. But it’s still not going to be enough to clear Booth’s conscience. 

The moment is interrupted by a loud disturbance. This time, it’s a welcome one. One of the exits is being cleared. Hodgins screams to those outside that they are trapped in the lab. Suddenly, light pours through a newly formed hole in the wall. Moments later, a search and rescue team fully hammers their way into the lab. Our team is now free. But this is far from the end.

Cam and Arastoo are rushing around outside helping those who got caught in the blast (but were lucky enough not to be barricaded in the lab). Arastoo calls for Cam’s attention, and she is immediately relieved to see Hodgins, Angela, Brennan, and Booth headed her way. Arastoo and Cam carefully lead Brennan over to a table to be examined. Brennan asks Aubrey about Hank and Christine. Aubrey assures her that they are perfectly safe. Booth is disappointed to learn that Aubrey still does not have a location on Kovac.

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Photo Source: Bones, FOX (2017 Fox Broadcasting Co.)

Amidst all the chaos, Angela and Hodgins manage to share a sweet moment. And it’s reminiscent of a conversation between Booth and Brennan, back when Brennan was pregnant with Hank. 

“I’m happy the little guy’s okay.”

“How do you know it’s a guy?”

“Just got a feeling.”

Meanwhile, Brennan is finally getting checked out by a doctor. He touches one of her fingers and asks her to touch the corresponding finger on her other hand with her thumb. Brennan taps the wrong finger, and Cam and the doctor share a grave look.

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Photo Source: Bones, FOX (2017 Fox Broadcasting Co.)

Cam tells Brennan that she’s going to go over the results of the test with the neurologist, and that she will be right back. Something about seeing Brennan sitting there alone and confused breaks me inside. She has experienced pain and loss more than most people in her lifetime. But this situation is completely new to her. Whatever has happened in the past, her mind was always there for her. It was always sharp and clear. Something is terribly wrong now. She knows it. She can feel it. If everything was actually okay, Cam and the doctor would have told her as much right then. Brennan sits there looking…just lost.

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Photo Source: Bones, FOX (2017 Fox Broadcasting Co.)

Thankfully, it’s not long before Booth is back by her side. He asks her what is going on. And for once, she really doesn’t know.  Again, when I heard her voice utter those words, I couldn’t help but cry even harder (it’s usually a constant flow of unrelenting tears throughout the episode). Booth is also confused. How could Brennan not know what the doctor said? But she reiterates that she doesn’t know. It seems positive that she recognizes who Booth is, and she knows that they were working on a case before the explosion. Brennan also knows her own children. Lack of that knowledge would be excruciating, at best. But with each passing second, I was becoming more aware of how this ailment would actually affect her. And the confirmation would only make the pain worse.

Booth calls Cam over to explain what’s going on with Brennan. She starts out with the good news- no internal bleeding. Brennan’s general prognosis seems to be fine. Though, she knows there’s more. “But?” Cam attempts to explain the medical ailment from which Brennan is suffering. And then breaks it down into what it all means. “Well, it means Brennan’s memories haven’t been compromised, but, rather, her ability to process complex information.” There it is. When Brennan had nothing else, she had her intelligence. And to her, that was always the one thing she could depend on. That was the one thing that wouldn’t leave her. It’s a part of her. It’s who she is. But of course, we will soon understand that no one believes that her intelligence is ALL that she is.

Brennan takes a moment to digest those words, but then abruptly decides that she needs to get back to work. This situation simply cannot be real. She will go examine some bones and it will all come back to her. She asks Arastoo to stay close to her in case she needs him. Booth implores her to rest. She’s suffered a severe trauma. There is no sense in working right now. But Brennan knows that this case is far from over. “Booth, the key to catching Kovac is inside that lab. The longer we’re out here, the more time he has to plan his next move. I need to get into the bone room.”

Obviously Booth eventually gives in. We jump to Booth and Brennan back in the lab, and walking toward the bone room. Booth asks her what the big plan is. Brennan is not exactly sure. She only knows that the four bones on the piece of paper she almost died to retrieve are the key to catching Kovac. They have to be. Even if she cannot remember why, she at least knows that she wouldn’t have returned to her office for the paper if it wasn’t vital.  

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Photo Source: Bones, FOX (2017 Fox Broadcasting Co.)

Booth and Brennan finally step into the bone room. At least, what used to be the bone room. The explosion left it in complete disarray. All the remains have spilled out of the storage drawers, and are now taking up residence on the ground. Completely mixed together. “It appears I’ll need Dr. Vaziri’s help.” “Not just Arastoo. You’re gonna need all the help that you can get.”

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Photo Source: Bones, FOX (2017 Fox Broadcasting Co.)

Even on her best day, it would take Brennan a considerable amount of time to sort through all those remains to find what she was looking for. She needs help. As we get further into this episode, her time in the lab actually gets more distressing. I am already picturing the scene with the (mostly former) squinterns when Brennan recounts the memories they have shared. But I won’t step on the heels of the next post. I’ll get to it soon enough. Every time I watch these few minutes, I feel drained by the time I get to the act break. Sure, the team is free. And I am relieved that Hodgins and Angela’s child is safe. But Brennan. I am so concerned about her emotional well-being. If this condition is permanent, her life will change drastically. And she will then have to grapple with her identity. It hurts. And yet, I thought it was an incredible and ambitious idea to explore Brennan’s identity in this episode. I am both excited and dreading the recap for these particular scenes. Because they are painful and beautiful. And superbly acted. As usual.

Stay tuned for Act III!